Will Frith
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» As it cools

Specialty coffee in Vietnam: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) coffee shops, roasters, and baristas, and Dalat green coffee farmers, processors, and evangelists.

Current Location:

I returned to Vietnam a couple of days ago, this time with a roundtrip ticket (late May 2019) and an open mind. Kel and I are here to start and continue some exciting projects with some really great partners (all of them TBA, as we firm up our agreements and plans).

It was bittersweet to leave Modbar and the US specialty scene behind last week. The past three years, I’ve grown as an individual, even developing an entrepreneurial interest (before this, I was content with just helping other folks start and grow their businesses). My role at Modbar had me speaking to cafe owners all day - assisting them with fitting, designing and specifying their shops, learning from their mistakes. Now I feel even more prepared to take on my own projects here.

I think our move comes in a fascinating and exciting moment in the Vietnamese coffee scene, as it’s grown by leaps and bounds since we moved back to the states in 2015. The sheer volume of cafes alone is an indication of the passion and motivation I’d seen building for a few years now. All the same, it’s pretty incredible to see just how far this industry has come in only six years. Watching past clients grow from small businesses to multi-location mini-empires; seeing baristas become roasters, then open their own shops - this is beyond what we dreamed of back in 2012.

Here’s a short list of what we’ll be up to this time around:

  • exploring the wholesale landscape

  • helping friends grow their businesses even more

  • seed and processing experiments

  • building our very own brands

  • teaching as many farmers as I can to roast coffee

  • learning to appreciate robusta

  • finding and encouraging the next generation of women and nonbinary coffee nerds

The long-term goal, as it’s always been, is to lift the quality and reputation of Vietnamese coffee and build a collaborative community around making coffee better.

Over the years a lot of folks have reached out to me via this blog, which I think is just incredible. I’ve met new friends, forged alliances, and learned about others’ journeys in the Vietnamese coffee story. Thanks for following along, and for forgiving my sporadic posting. I promise I’ll make it worth the effort.

Stay tuned for the resurrection of our secret (also sporadic) cafe!

Back at my favorite spot, The Workshop, a little jetlagged but mostly just excited for what comes next!

Back at my favorite spot, The Workshop, a little jetlagged but mostly just excited for what comes next!